Next Steps in the Study of Genetics
and Language Disorders
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
Investigation of the question of the genetic bases of language and language disorders requires information across various topics, including the clear delineation of behavioral phenotypes, identification of neurocognitive substrates, synthesis of emerging discoveries across different clinical diagnoses (e.g., Williams syndrome, fragile X, autism, specific language impairment [SLI]), new models of genetic mechanisms, new methods of gene discovery, and new quantitative techniques for estimation of genetic effects and effect sizes. Breakthrough discoveries are underway in each of these areas of investigation, but often they are developing in ways that make it difficult for scientists to be well informed. Several factors have impeded access to this information: distributed sources of funding, traditional disciplinary boundaries, and reliance on relatively circumscribed communication networks among scientists.
To address this need for increased communication and the naturally ensuing collaborations, it is important to bring together scientists from various disciplines, to share and synthesize emerging discoveries, and to begin developing innovative, hybrid methods to be applied to the search for the genetic mechanisms operative in the human language capacity. This would ideally include recognition of how this capacity can be limited
The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors alone and should not be construed as official or representing the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, the National Institutes of Health, or the Department of Health and Human Services.